It’s road trip season and here in Special Collections we have a variety of interesting materials pertaining to highway travel and the development of road infrastructure in Iowa.
Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday to remember those that died while serving in the armed forces. It also marks the unofficial beginning of summer, when many celebrate with backyard barbecues. While your celebration may not have looked quite like the photograph below of a 4-H exhibit, I’m sure you will sympathize with the quest to find more time to enjoy your backyard, if you have one–or maybe a park or nature preserve if you don’t.
Wishing everyone living in the northern hemisphere a warm and happy summer!
To see more 4-H photographs, check out our Flickr album, or stop by Special Collections and University Archives and ask for photographs from RS 16/1 and 16/3.
“Before her yet lay her most hazardous journey, to undertake which required the cool, calculating bravery of a heart not insensible to fear, but inspired by that sublime determination which risks danger when duty calls…. Along the high approaches of open timber work, and over the body of the river, thirty feet above its roaring current, she must make her way, stepping from tie to tie. A single misstep would be fatal, and to add to the horror of her terrible venture, just as she reached the bridge her flickering light went out, leaving her in total darkness. Providence must have guided the footsteps of that intrepid girl, for she made her way over in safety.” (Kate Shelley Papers, MS 684, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library, Box 1, Folder 14)
Thus did an 1881 newspaper capture the hazards eighteen-year-old Kate Shelley faced as she crossed the Des Moines River on a trestle bridge to warn the Moingona, Iowa, depot of a washed-out bridge further down the tracks.
If you grew up in Iowa, you probably heard the story of railroad heroine Kate Shelley in elementary school. I did not grow up here, so I was excited to hear this nineteenth century teenager’s story and learn that we have her papers here in Special Collections (MS 684).
It was the night of July 6, 1881. A strong storm was blowing through central Iowa where Shelley lived on her family’s farm on Honey Creek near Moingona in Boone County. Heavy flooding of the creek had weakened the railroad bridge crossing it near the homestead. A pusher engine, used to push trains up steep inclines, had been sent to check the tracks for damage. While crossing Honey Creek, the bridge collapsed, sending the engine and its four-man crew plunging into the creek. Two men died, and two men were left stranded in the creek.
Shelley was at home when she and her mother heard the collapse of the bridge and the men’s cries for help. A regular express train, she knew, was scheduled to come through later that night, passing through Moingona, then over the Des Moines River and on to the collapsed bridge over Honey Creek. Against her mother’s protests, she decided she had to get to Moingona to warn the station. She first made her way down to the collapsed bridge and called down to one of the crewmembers, saying that she would get help. She then followed the train tracks to the Des Moines River bridge.
After the harrowing crossing, she did successfully reach the depot and gave the warning of the collapsed bridge. A rescue party was sent out to save the two men in the creek, Shelley once again leading the way to find a safe crossing to reach the men.
Stirring accounts of Shelley’s heroic deed, such as the one quoted from above, were printed in newspapers across the country, and she became a household name. She received many letters from admirers, especially from other young women, requesting photographs, information, and correspondence from this suddenly famous teenager.
One such writer, a J. M. Noble, writes in a letter dated “October 10, ’81” from Tupper’s Plains, Ohio, “Dear Madam:- It is with timidity that I request of you the pleasure and honor of your correspondence. I enjoy the society of a lady far more than that of a gentleman, and deeming you to be a lady of more than ordinary endowments I should feel proud to consider you as one of my lady friends.” Later in the letter, she provides references, in case Shelley is in doubt of her potential correspondent’s reputation: “In regard to my character, you can address Mr., or Mrs. M. Bowers the teachers at the Plain’s Seminary, or a young lady (whose name I will give if you desire) whom I have been intimately acquainted with for about two years, she will be married soon and is going to Kansas but she can give you more information, perhaps, that any one else, concerning my standing in society.”
The Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway Company was, of course, indebted to Shelley for the deed, for which they presented her with a watch and chain. Our collection includes this letter from E. O. Soule, Train Master in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He writes, “The enclosed ‘watch & chain’ you will please accept on behalf of ‘Valley City Division, NE 318, of the ‘Order of Railway Conductors’ as a sleight [sic] testimonial of our appreciation of your brave and noble deed of July 6th, and I wish to assure you that the name of ‘Miss Kate Shelley’ and the remembrance of her bravery will ever be cherished in the memory of every member of ‘Div. 318.'”
In 1901, the bridge that Shelley crossed was replaced by a new iron bridge, named the Kate Shelley High Bridge. Here is a picture below.
The Boone County Historical Society runs the Kate Shelley Memorial Park and Railroad Museum, marking the site of the original Moingona depot.
ISU Special Collections has several collections about Iowa railroads. Stop by to check out these great collections:
- Iowa Train Photograph Collection, MS 604
- Albert Parks Butts Reminiscences, MS 185
- Iowa Central Railway Company Timetable, Ms 245
- Guyon Whitley Papers, MS 148
- Herbert Gilkey Airline, Busline and Railroad Schedule Collection, MS 217
- Railroad Blueprints, MS 571
Another activity for those with some time to spare – student or not: come in to Special Collections and University Archives and exercise your brain! We have plenty of materials for research, just let us know what you’re interested in and we can help you out. See you soon!
Iowa State College (now University) was the site of the first Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit in the country. Established in 1932, the collaboration between the Iowa Fish and Game Commission (DNR) and Iowa State predated, by three years, the national cooperative program between Iowa State, eight other universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Biologic Survey. In 1941 the unit expanded to include fisheries research.
One of the first accomplishments of the fishery unit, directed by first unit leader Reeve M. Bailey, was the establishment of an Iowa State fish survey, which today’s fishermen will find easily accessible in its online form. Following Bailey, Kenneth Carlander served for nearly two decades as the second unit leader of the unit. During Carlander’s tenure, ISU offered two fishery-related graduate degrees: Fisheries Management (1947) and Fishery and Wildlife Management (1963). Carlander also had students in his “Principles in Fish Management” class take a census of fish in Lake Laverne.
The program has had international impact, drawing both students and visitors from around the world, as well as exchanging knowledge and informing practice in multiple countries.
The caption on the back of the photograph reads:
Those preparing to teach vocational agriculture assist high school pupils to improve their home projects as part of their training program. This agricultural education student, A. W. Dahlgran, left, is assisting one of his pupils in the weight of his Duroc Pigs at weaning time. An analysis of these weight records shows the value of management practices followed. The modern movable type hog house was built in the high school farm mechanics class from plans secured from Iowa State College.
The teacher education program in agricultural life sciences is one of the older programs on campus. Begun in 1911, as part of Agricultural Education, the program prepares educators for teaching high school agriculture as well as other career options. Special Collections has many photographs of student teachers working with FFA (formerly “Future Farmers of America”) and other agriculture students in University Photographs RS 9/6. Here is a sampling of some of our collections related to swine, swine husbandry, and agricultural education:
Another collection is now available for research in Special Collections and University Archives! The National Agri-Marketing Association Records, MS 540, contains the administrative files, conference and event materials, and chapter files of the non-profit professional organization. The collection includes correspondence, meeting minutes, committee records, directories, clippings, conference records, newsletters, chapter reports, photographs, negatives, slides, videotapes, an audio reel, and audiocassettes.
One of the biggest roles of NAMA (est. 1957) is to put on conferences and other professional development events for its members – agri-marketing professionals and students. Their first seminar, “Farmarketing,” was held in 1960 in Chicago, back when the organization was called the Chicago Area Agricultural Advertising Association. Since then, the Agri-Marketing Conference has been held every year all around the United States. Other events they have held include the Outlook Conference, the Marketing Management Conference, the Issues Forum, and various tours and short courses, information and photos of which can be found throughout the collection (see Series 2 in the finding aid).
More information can be found in the collection, along with images, audio, and video. Related collections include National Agri-Marketing Association. Iowa Chapter Records (MS 57), National Agri-Marketing Association. Midwest Chapter Records (MS 64), National Agri-Marketing Association. Missouri/Kansas Chapter Records (MS 83), and National Agriculture Day Records (MS 66), all of which are worth seeing if this new collection strikes your fancy. Stop by sometime!
It’s that time of year again! The time for donning caps and gowns if you are a senior, or if not, at least setting aside those textbooks and pencils for a nice …bonfire. A beanie bonfire, to be exact.
From 1916 to 1934, freshmen at Iowa State College were required to wear “freshmen beanies” or “prep caps” on campus. After suffering through a year of harassment that the caps brought upon them, freshman were quite happy to ditch them at the end of the year. Beginning in 1923, students held a mock-graduation, the Moving Up Ceremony, during VEISHEA celebrations, at which time seniors became alumni and everyone else moved up a grade. The freshmen burned their beanies in a roaring bonfire. By 1934, the caps were no longer worn and the moving up ceremony faded due to lack of interest.
We’re lucky to have a surviving beanie in the University Archives at ISU. It belonged to Robert W. Breckenridge. Robert saved his freshman beanie from 1918 instead of burning it, and it now resides in the archives.
More images of the Moving Up Ceremony can be found in the Student Life album on our Flickr page.
(Note: A correction was made to an earlier version of this post. The earlier version had misidentified a felt hat belonging to Iris Macumber (RS 21/7/228) as a freshman beanie. Oops! Freshmen beanies were required for men only. This hat shown above is a true example of the freshman beanie, and the photograph and information has been updated and corrected.)
Educate, enchant, and inspire an appreciation of plants, butterflies, and the beauty of the natural world.
– Reiman Gardens Mission Statement
Reiman Gardens turns 20 this year. The university’s old horticultural garden (est. 1914), the predecessor to Reiman Gardens, was greatly expanded and moved to its present location to serve as an attractive entrance to the Iowa State University campus. Construction began in 1994 and the garden was officially dedicated on September 16, 1995.
Reiman Gardens is the largest public garden in Iowa.
We’ve arrived at the end of Jazz Appreciation Month, so I thought it would be nice to draw attention to the Floyd Bean Papers (MS 55). Bean was a jazz pianist from east central Iowa (Ladora and Grinnell). His first professional gig was playing with fellow Iowan, Bix Beiderbecke. However, his big break came in 1939 when he joined Bob Crosby’s band full-time. Throughout the rest of his life, Bean played and recorded with many other jazz musicians as well as composed his own music.
Below is an image of a jam session Bean (not pictured) had with two members of the Duke Ellington orchestra.
“Trickey Sam” & Johnny Hodges – Help make Duke Ellington’s Band – Just before “Pearl Harbor” “41”.. Floyd was on Piano – Panther Rooom – Chi. Jam Session – (Harry Lim sponsor)
[all sic] – transcript of the note on the back of the “Tricky Sam” photo (bottom)
The collection contains Bean’s own arrangements and musical compositions, photographs of Bean and other jazz musicians (including personally addressed photos from Cleo Brown, Sidney “Big Sid” Catlett, and Earl Hines) and a variety of other kinds of materials documenting jazz and jazz musicians. It’s a great resource for Jazz Appreciation Month. We’d love to have you stop by and take a look! Also, be sure and listen to Iowa State’s own jazz band some time.